About Thomas Cole

Tom Cole is a private dealer who specialises in tribal weavings and textiles of art historical and ethnographic significance from Central Asia. He has been active in the antique tribal rug and textile art trade for the past twenty years. Having lived a good part of his life in, and travelled extensively through, Asia, he is familiar with diverse textile and woven art traditions from the Near East and Persia, through Central Asia, and the Silk Road to China. More recently he has become a frequent visitor to both Turkey and the Central Asian Republic of Turkmenistan.

In addition to being actively involved in the trade, Cole has contributed to an understanding and appreciation of the art form through his articles in HALI magazine. These include a landmark paper on Tibetan rugs entitled 'A Tribal Tradition' (HALI 49, 1990), as well as 'Chinese Rugs -- Art from the Steppes' (HALI 67, 1993), which offers a fresh perspective on the Chinese carpet weaving tradition. His evolving interests are demonstrated by subsequent articles on Baluch tribal weavings (HALI 76, 1994 & HALI 97, 1998), both of which contributed to the changing landscape of Baluch rug collecting nomenclature.

He has long been a contributing editor for HALI, representing the magazine in the San Francisco Bay Area, and has written numerous exhibition and event reviews. But as a writer he is

perhaps best known for his entertaining travelogues, in which he has shared with HALI readers his adventures along little travelled routes in the arid deserts of Baluchistan, the battle scarred landscape of northern Afghanistan and Mazar-i-Sharif, and the labyrinthine back alleys of the forbidden city of Lhasa.

A frequent lecturer at International Conference on Oriental carpets (ICOC) and American Conference on Oriental Rugs (ACOR) gatherings, as well as to various rug societies throughout the United States, Cole's extensive field experience results in an original approach in his writings, with unique perspectives on attribution, provenance, design origins and aesthetics. (You can link to those sites and others from the tLINKS page.)

He has written two books on Tibetan rugs, as well as subsequent contributions on the rugs and textiiles of the Turkmen people. He also mounts small exhibitions in a private gallery space, open only by appointment.